A trampoline can be a fun and engaging way for your kids to get exercise, but are they safe? This is a question many parents have when their 2-year-old starts showing interest in the bouncy toy.
The short answer is; no, the general medical recommendation is that 2-year olds should not use a trampoline. In fact, the American Academy for Pediatrics recommends that children under age six should avoid trampolines completely.
But we get it, not every single parent of a 2-year old out there is going to avoid a trampoline, especially if one has been recommended to help with development or behavioral issues. Fortunately, trampolines built specifically for toddlers as young as 2-years old do exist.
The key to keeping a toddler safe on the trampoline is supervision. A parent or guardian should be watching their child at all times and if they are not able to pay close attention, at all times, then it’s best for them just to stay off of any type of device with springs! It may seem obvious, but many parents still make mistakes when supervising toddlers around a trampoline or other bouncy toy.
In this blog post, we’ll explore what makes trampolines generally unsafe for 2-year olds, how injuries to things like growth plates can affect toddlers, medical experts’ recommendations for 2-year olds and using a trampoline, as well as some general tips to make it safer if you do decide to use one.
What Makes Trampolines Unsafe for 2-Year Olds?
2-year olds still have a lot of development to do before they have adequate balance and musculature to handle bouncing on a trampoline. This is why toddler trampolines often come with a balance bar for support.
While some 2-year olds make take to a small trampoline without much need of assistance, many will require gradual exposure and training. In order to get your 2-year old comfortable with a toddler trampoline, you should start with a smaller trampoline and gradually increase the size as they age.
Trampolines also pose risks to 2-year olds and toddlers because they are still developing their cognitive skills. They may not be able to understand the dangers of a trampoline, what could happen if someone falls (or jumps) off, or how high up it is safe for them to jump (which can lead to serious injury).
While there are certainly benefits to children using trampolines, whether for exercise or to help with development, they also come with a pretty big risk. A 2-year falling, even from a small height of a few feet, could result in serious injuries such as head trauma (concussion) or damage to the body; such as the growth plates.
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Growth Plate Injuries in 2-year Olds & Toddlers
Growth plate injuries affect toddlers too – and they’re serious! Growth plate injuries are a serious issue for toddlers. The growth plates found at the end of long bones in children and adolescents allow them to grow taller as they age.
When it comes to trampolining, a growth plate is an area on a toddler that can be injured by repeated stress or trauma from the repeated jumping motions/jarring of their joints as they land. This can occur even if your child is only using their trampoline once per week over an extended period of time (like months).
This is because the growth plates in toddlers and children don’t have as much cartilage protecting their ends as we adults do with our joints. Instead, there’s the only soft tissue that doesn’t provide any cushioning when they land hard after bouncing off something high up such as springs under tension in a trampoline.
Some of the consequences of growth plate injuries in toddlers are painful swelling, joint stiffness, and pain; all of which can last for weeks or months. This is because the growth plate has been damaged by a fracture that’s not visible on an x-ray, but it still requires time to heal before it will regain normal function again.
Injuries to the growth plates may also cause some deformity of bone shape in toddlers such as bowlegs; (a condition called tibia varum) where one leg appears longer than another.
Growth plate injuries can occur in different areas of a 2-year olds’ body, including; the knee, ankle, and foot.
The most common injury is a growth plate fracture in the tibia (the larger bone of your lower leg). This type can be difficult to diagnose because it’s not always visible on an x-ray or MRI scan.
2-Year Olds Can Use Toddler Trampolines
You can’t completely take away risk unless you completely take away a trampoline. If you’re set on having your 2-year old use a trampoline, whether it’s for exercise or a behavioral intervention, then getting one made for toddlers is best.
Trampolines built for 2-year olds, such as the Galt Nursery Trampoline, Toddler Trampoline for Ages 1+, and the Little Tikes Trampoline, are smaller and have a lower weight limit.
Some of the Galt Nursery tramps for toddlers have a netting forming an enclosure, which is higher than most other toddler-sized models, to prevent falls from happening in case your child does lose their balance or get too close to the edges while jumping on it!
The Galt also comes with soft foam edges around all four sides of its frame so, if they do fall off, there’s no risk of injuring themselves by hitting hard metal bars like you would find surrounding larger-sized frames.
Toddler specific trampolines claim to help children ages 1 and above to develop muscle, balance, confidence, and coordination skills.
While The Little Tikes trampoline is meant for ages 3-6 and isn’t a recommended option for 2-year olds, it can be a great option for toddlers and preschoolers because it has an enclosure netting high enough to prevent falls from happening in case your child does lose their balance or get too close to the edges while jumping!
Little Tikes trampoline, like the Galt, also comes with soft foam edges around all four sides of its frame so if they do fall off there isn’t any risk of injuring themselves by hitting hard metal bars like you would find surrounding larger-sized frames, which can be dangerous when children are still developing muscle control over where parts go during playtime activities such as this one.
What Do The Experts Recommend?
The American Academy for Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under age six avoid trampolines completely. This is because <6 year-olds are at risk from injuries; such as growth plate injuries, falls off the trampoline (potentially causing head or body injuries), jumping onto other children, or being injured by hitting the springs and frame.
The AAP recommends that children over age six should only use trampolines when supervised at all times by an adult and with a safety net in place to prevent falls. They also recommend children jump one at a time to prevent injuries from bouncing into each other (by accident or on purpose).
How To Make Trampolining Safer For 2-Year Olds
If trampolining for your 2-year old is a must for you, despite the risks, then it is recommended to only use a trampoline designed for toddlers (such as those mentioned above). In addition to this, here are a few general safety tips for keeping children safer when trampolining.
Make sure that you are supervising your child closely while they play on the trampoline.
Place a safety net around it to prevent falls off of and onto other kids when jumping from one, as well as foam padding around the springs & hard edges to prevent potential injuries if they bounce into them.
2. Regular Inspections
The best practice is to inspect your 2-year olds trampoline before each use. Inspecting the trampoline will help avoid accidents due to parts that are damaged from wear and tear.
Parts on a trampoline you’ll want to check for safety include; the springs, the centre/fabric portion, and the frame of the trampoline. Make sure that there are no signs of rust, tears in the fabric from wear & tear (or any other damage), broken parts such as the hooks for attaching to a safety net which could cause injury if not attached properly.
Hooks on your mat should be secure so they don’t come off when jumping onto them; also make certain you have enough padding under the trampoline, in case of falls, before using them with little ones!
If anything is damaged during inspection then do NOT use until repaired by an expert who knows what they are doing, this will help prevent accidents caused by malfunctioning or worn out trampoline parts.
The location of your trampoline is another key to trampoline safety. If you’re using one for a 2-year old or a toddler, chances are you’ll be inside. But you’ll still want to make sure that the trampoline is in a safe location.
Don’t place a trampoline in the backyard if there are any trees or other objects that could fall on it.
If you’re using a trampoline indoors, you’ll want to make sure there’s ample clear space around it and nothing directly above it, like a light or ceiling fan. Also, make sure that there’s no furniture nearby that could get knocked over/jumped into.
If you’re using a trampoline in a second floor or higher room, make sure to keep it away from any windows or doors to prevent any accidents from your children potentially jumping/falling out!
4. Single Use Only
Even though this is last on this list, this is perhaps the most important safety rule for trampolines and children, especially with 2-year olds. When toddlers jump on a trampoline together it increases the risk of injuries such as head injuries, broken bones, and sprains from them potentially bouncing or jumping into one another.
When your 2-year old or toddler is using a trampoline solo, you won’t have as many risks to worry about. The main risk which remains is that they might fall off the trampoline and hurt themselves if it’s not set up properly or in an unsafe location!
The general medical consensus is to have 2-year olds and any child under the age of 6 avoid trampoline use completely. In summary, trampolines are not safe for toddlers and children under the age of six. If you are committed to using a trampoline for physical or behavioral therapy with your 2-year-old, make sure you are purchasing a trampoline designed specifically for toddlers.
If you have a toddler who is mature enough to understand that they should only use their with an adult’s help, then there may be some benefits in allowing them limited time on one if set up properly (with padding and netting). But, this decision needs careful consideration because the risks of injuries do significantly outweigh any pros associated with trampolining.
There are many ways to get 2-year olds and toddlers active, aside from trampolining, with significantly less risk of serious injury. Exploring other activities with your toddler is a great way to keep them active while keeping them safe from injury or growth plate damage.